While many of today's dog breeds can be traced back to the Middle Ages (and some even older), breeds as we know them today, carefully defined by physical appearance, did not exist in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Instead, dogs were classified by function.

For example, Dame Juliana Berners, in 1486 listed 14 types:
  • Grehoun,Bastard, Mengrell, Mastiff, Lemor, Spanyel, Raches, Kenettyes, Teroures, Butchers’ Houndes, Myddyng dogges, Tryndel taylles, Prikherid currys, smalle ladyes’ poppees
‘A Treatise on Hunting in the Boke of St. Albans’, England, first published in 1486.

In 1570, Dr. Johannes Caius presented the following classification scheme:
  • I. Hunting Dogs
    • i. Venatici Group
      • 1. Leverarws or Harriers (rabbit hunting dogs)
      • 2. Terrarius or Terrars (Terriers varied in size color and coat type)
      • 3. Sanguinarius or Bloodhounds (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)
      • 4. Agaseus or Gazehounds (greyhound like dogs)
      • 5. Leporanus or Grehounds (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)
      • 6. Loranus or Lyemmer (another type of scent hound or Bloodhound)
      • 7. Vertigus or Tumbler (may be a turn spit)
      • 8. Cams Furax or Stealer (sometimes believed to be a poaching dog)
    • ii. Aucupatorii
      • 1. Index or Setter (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)
      • 2. Aquaticus or Spaniell (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)
  • II. Spaniel Gentle or Comforter (Lap dogs)
  • III. Farm Dogs
    • i. Canis Pastoalis or Shepherd’s Dogge (herding types)
    • ii. Mastive or Bandogge,
  • called Canis Villacus or Carbenarius (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)
  • IV. Mongrels
    • i. Admonitor or Wapp
    • ii. Vernepator or Turnespet
    • iii. Saltator or Dauncer

‘De Canibus Britannieus’ Dr Johannes Caius, England, Latin 1570, (‘Of English dogges’) English 1576
(comments in parenthesis from paper "Introduction to Dogs in Our Period" by Pavla de la Satu Mare (Paula Brewer) found in the files of the Volkshund Yahoo! group)

Pavla de la Satu Mare has organized modern breeds with medieval origins thusly:
  • Hounds/ Hunting - Afghan Hound, Beagles, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Bulldog, Coonhound, Elkhound, Foxhound, Greyhound, Harrier, Irish Wolfhound, Ibizan Hound, Otterhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Vizsla, Whippet.
  • Terriers- Cairn Terrier, Irish Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier, Standard Dachshund, West Highland White Terrier.
  • Spaniels, Setters and Water Dogs - Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, Field Spaniel, Gordon Setter, Poodle, Springer Spaniel.
  • Comforters or lap dogs - Bichon Frise, Italian Greyhounds, Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Dachshund, Papillion, Pug, Shih-Tsu, Toy Spaniel.
  • Herding/ protection/ working - Anatolian, Boxer, Chow Chow, Collie, Corgi, Doberman, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Pyrenees Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, Samoyed, Schnauzer.
  • Mutt or mongrel.


"The Dog in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Body types, uses and accoutrements", by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, Meridies -https://studioloperyn.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/dogs20140719.pdf